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Century Ettiquette

Old 07-31-08, 09:40 AM
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Timmy Mac
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Century Ettiquette

So I'm looking to try a century ride, and I'm scanning local info trying to find a good one. I've never done one before, but I'm less worried about conditioning than I am about riding in a group. I keep finding references to pacelines and peletons and so forth, but is it acceptable for me to just show up and ride and not worry about joining and/or riding with a group?
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Old 07-31-08, 10:12 AM
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For centuries it really doesn't matter unless your riding with the hardcore roadies up in the front. Usually the field gets pretty spread out. You'll find you might be riding solo or with 3-4 people max by mile 20.
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Old 07-31-08, 10:27 AM
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A few quick pointers....

If you've never done a century before, I'd be a little careful about joining in with a group. The main concern is that you may be tempted to ride with others who are faster than you, and burn you out quickly.

I'd go solo for awhile - maybe an hour?. Then look around and see if there are any pacelines riding close to your pace. Then politely ask if you can join in.

And/or, I'd use an HRM to make sure that whatever group you're in isn't pushing you too close to LT.

Also, I can't tell -- are you used to riding in pacelines?
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Old 07-31-08, 10:37 AM
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there's no special ettiquette. Just regular courtesy like any other time you are riding.

At a century, they are usually "show and go" starts which means people roll up to the registration table, sign in and hit the road. So you don't have to worry about rolling off in a large pack. It's much more strung out than that.

Just ride like how you normally ride. If you fall in with some people, enjoy some company and conversation.

There's people who go to these things and take them really seriously, but they are non competitive rides, so just enjoy your ride and enjoy the company of whoever happens to be around you.

The only thing I would say is that folks at centuries don't like getting passed on the right or rubbed against very much, so try and keep that to a minimum.
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Old 07-31-08, 11:05 AM
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Just jump in to a group you can hang with comfortably.
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Old 07-31-08, 11:45 AM
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The only etiquitte you'll need is common sense stuff, let people know you're passing, point out debris on the road, etc.

My 3 step system for centuries
1. If it's show 'n' go-- start really early.
2. Suck the wheels of the faster riders as long as you can (without exploding)- get dropped
3. Get gobbled up by a group going your pace.

Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty and have a ball!
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Old 07-31-08, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by veloGeezer View Post
There's people who go to these things and take them really seriously
Those are the same folks who (in their mind at least) think they are racing you on the MUP.

>>Is it acceptable for me to just show up and ride and not worry about joining and/or riding with a group?<<

It's not only acceptable, I'd say that's pretty much expected for most folks. It is nice to ride with a few folks to strike up a conversation and do a little drafting (do alot if it is windy!) I've also found that you typically don't ride with the same people the whole time anyway for even if you start out with a certain group that rides at your pace, at mile 50 or 80 they or you may slow down, or maybe stop to rest longer than you want, so maybe you'll find yourself with a different group and/or going solo at some point.

Overall, just have fun and ride at your own pace.

Last edited by yeamac; 07-31-08 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 07-31-08, 01:20 PM
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Some good advice above. Basicially, ride your own pace and most likely you'll pick up some friends. If you end up in a group you're uncomfortable with for whatever reason, stop or adjust your pace accordingly. If you're not used to riding in pacelines, be extra careful. It's one of those things that I think you really can't learn without doing it -- reading about it on the internet will help identify some of the issues, but it's a learned skill. Despite it benefits, it does add to the risks of riding, even for a group of extremely experienced riders. I was in a group last night that had several pros in it and a third of the group went down (including me) when one guy fell after hitting some bad pavement and caused a chain reaction. Bodies and bikes everywhere. Fortunately, no one was hurt and no bikes were too badly dinged up.

Have a great ride!
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Old 07-31-08, 05:44 PM
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Awesome, everyone. Thanks for the advice. That's all what I figured, but I didn't want to be the clueless schmuck who shows up and annoys everyone with noobishness.
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Old 07-31-08, 06:05 PM
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Just one thing ... if you do ride with other riders ... try really hard to keep rolling in a straight line.
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Old 07-31-08, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Just one thing ... if you do ride with other riders ... try really hard to keep rolling in a straight line.
But... but... What if the road curves?!?

Seriously, don't paceline unless you know what you're doing.
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Old 07-31-08, 08:14 PM
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If you're thinking of the normal charity rides, just go and ride. You'll start out in a big mass going 8 miles an hour, but in a little bit you get sort of spread out and can go your own speed. After you've gone a few miles, unless you intentionally stay with someone, you're liable to be riding on your own anyway- happens to me at least. I'll have people somewhere up in front of me, people somewhere back behind me, occasionally, I'll pass someone or vice versa, but no one just riding real close (memo: Check deodorant). When you start off in that big mob, leave some extra room in front so you're not running into people.

People go ALL speeds at these things. I think Alkigreg has been trying to break a 4-hour 100 mile century. And at one ride I went to, I rode my front-loading trike at 8 mph and still passed people. So no matter how fast or slow you go, someone else is doing the same.
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Old 07-31-08, 08:23 PM
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Oh, suggestion: Go to www.bicycle-stuff.com, click on the "thousands of bicycle pictures", and pick, say, the Goatneck Ride. Click on photos 001-0025, click the first picture, and it'll start a slide show. Sit there and let it run through 30 or 40 pictures and you'll have a pretty good idea. Note that about picture 24, there's evidently a pause in time and you go from a big crowd to people scattered way out. (That site is north Texas stuff, but it'll give you an idea).

In the first few pictures, some of those guys in matching outfits are probably riding together, but I haven't been up front to see for sure.
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Old 07-31-08, 08:40 PM
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Great advice above. I second the danger of pacelines, even for experienced riders that have been training together. I had one blow up in front of me on the Seattle to Portland a couple of weeks ago, and it was bikes and bodies flying in every conceivable direction.

Ride your first century or two at respectable distances from other riders. It won't be hard to do, in fact it is easier than speeding up or slowing down to match a paceline.

At the end you will have the pleasure of knowing that your performance results (time, average speed, etc.) are all yours. And if you want the opportunity to socialize, save that for the rest stops.
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Old 08-01-08, 06:04 AM
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Oh, yeah. I hadn't even considered JOINING a paceline. I just didn't want to screw one up somehow. I have no problem just doing my own thing and figuring it out as I go.

Y'all are very helpful and very much enabling my addiction. You're like cheerful crack dealers, and I love you for it.
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Old 08-01-08, 06:22 AM
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Depending on the size of the group and terrain, you'll probably find yourself in a number of informal pacelines as things sort themselves out. Don't get too close, but don't worry and hang back too much either. Pay attention to what's going on and you'll fit in. Have fun.
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Old 08-01-08, 06:28 AM
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Half the fun of a century for me is grabbing on with different groups, or soloists along the way. Ride brisk with the group, then slow up for a little social ride with the ones and twos. Everyone is pretty much doing the same thing, so it's expected. Usually by mile 75-80 you'll be on your own, just when the pain starts.
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Old 08-01-08, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Timmy Mac View Post
Awesome, everyone. Thanks for the advice. That's all what I figured, but I didn't want to be the clueless schmuck who shows up and annoys everyone with noobishness.

Yes, please don't be that guy.

That's my job.
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Old 08-03-08, 08:20 AM
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I ride a lot of charity centuries, and usually with a couple of friends. On mass starts, we usually ride out and don't worry about who we are with, but meet at the first rest stop and ride together from there.

I usually push it the first few miles, because I like to get in front of most of the inexperienced riders. However, I keep in mind it is a 100 mile ride. The easiest miles come from about 20 miles out to about 20 miles in.

As for pacelines, I try to observe the riders I get into a paceline with, if I don't know them. Make sure they know what they are doing or you are in for trouble. After the first rest stop, my friends and I draft off each other the rest of the way, with an occasional rider or two joining in.

Century organized rides are my favorite rides.
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Old 08-16-08, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Timmy Mac View Post
So I'm looking to try a century ride, and I'm scanning local info trying to find a good one. I've never done one before, but I'm less worried about conditioning than I am about riding in a group. I keep finding references to pacelines and peletons and so forth, but is it acceptable for me to just show up and ride and not worry about joining and/or riding with a group?
Hi Timmy Mac,

I just came upon your inquiry. An excellent and thorough discussion about paceline technique and etiquette can be found on the Diablo (California) Cyclists website: http://www.diablocyclists.org/

Click on Articles -> Training: Paceline Etiquette, and Riding in a Group

I first found this site when looking for a ten week training schedule that I had seen years ago in Bicycling Magazine; the schedule appears to be no longer on their site. FYI there were two versions (see below). I found these (I chose the longer one) to be doable in my busy life, incorporated into my daily commute. Also it is very motivating to have daily "quotas" to fulfill, and I plot my results on Excell along with the recommendations. (I humbly describe myself as a moderate, rather than long distance cyclist.)

Secondly to find some local centuries, see the website: www.c-r-a-n-e.com
(Century Rides Around New England). I just tried to open it, but I couldn't; I haven't been on it for a few weeks. A usual century I ride is the Rodman Ride for Kids out of Foxboro on 9/27 this year: www.rodmanrideforkids.org

RECOMMENDED - STRENGTH TO SPARE
Week Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun. Weekly
Easy* Pace* Brisk* Pace* Pace* Pace* Mileage
1 10 12 14 Off 12 40 15 103
2 10 13 15 Off 13 44 17 112
3 10 15 15 Off 15 48 18 123
4 11 16 19 Off 16 53 20 135
5 12 18 20 Off 18 59 22 149
6 13 19 23 Off 19 64 24 162
7 14 20 25 Off 20 71 27 177
8 16 20 27 Off 20 75 27 177
9 17 20 30 Off 20 75 32 194
Cent Week 19 20 30 Off 10 5 Easy Century 184

1,516

RECOMMENDED - EASY CENTURY TRAINING
Week Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun. Weekly
Easy* Pace* Brisk* Pace* Pace* Pace* Mileage
1 6 10 12 Off 10 30 9 77
2 7 11 13 Off 11 34 10 86
3 8 13 15 Off 13 38 11 98
4 8 14 17 Off 14 42 13 108
5 9 15 19 Off 15 47 14 119
6 11 15 21 Off 15 53 16 131
7 12 15 24 Off 15 59 18 143
8 13 15 25 Off 15 65 20 153
9 15 15 25 Off 15 65 20 155
Cent Week 15 15 25 Off 10 5 Easy Century 170

1,240
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Old 08-18-08, 08:11 PM
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I've got my first 50 mile ride coming up this weekend...the Lake Nockamixon Century,
Sunday, August 24, 2008. I'm only planning on doing the 50 mi. section, since my longest ride so far has only been about 35 mile. I've done that ride twice. Both times I was full of energy until about mile 25, when I started experiencing a decrease in energy and finding it hard to maintain my usual cadence. It got progressively harder as I went after that, but no severe bonking to speak of. Just a steady decrease in energy. I only ate one powerbar the last time, and nothing the first time, so I'm pretty sure I just need to keep feed and hydrated.

A friend says it will be a lot easier on the Century ride because of the drafting you can do with other riders and because it is a lot flatter there; plus there is a lot of rest stops. My 35 mile training ride has 1500 ft of ascent and I didn't have to stop for a rest the last time.

I was sort of counting on the drafting, but now after reading this thread I'm not so sure. I always train alone and haven't done any paceline practice. I don't want to be the Fred that takes out the peloton . Is it cool to stay behind a group without taking any of the load?
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Old 08-19-08, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by RudeDog00 View Post
Is it cool to stay behind a group without taking any of the load?
Probably. How's that for a definitive non-answer? I doubt many people would care on a charity ride, and the ones that would care, I'm guessing you'd have a hard time hanging on to. Just stay in the back position, observe what they're doing, and take a pull if your comfortable. Not too tough once you get a feel for their style.
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Old 08-19-08, 09:20 AM
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Aside from the benefit of making better time for less effort, why do so many people seem concerned with getting into a paceline?
Am I the only one who's happier just riding along, doing my own thing? Even when I rode STP this year, I didn't get into any lines. (Athough, I did have a few people swing in behind me for a while.)
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Old 08-19-08, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by RudeDog00 View Post
Is it cool to stay behind a group without taking any of the load?
Yes but get far enough off the back that it's obvious to the person that just finished their pull that you're not part of the rotation. One to two bike lengths should do, you won't get the full benefit of drafting there, but you'll be surprised at the pull you do get. Oh, and beware of snot rockets when off the back!


Aside from the benefit of making better time for less effort, why do so many people seem concerned with getting into a pace line?
I like the interval training aspect of it. I spend a lot of time alone on the road normally and during centuries and find that a good fast pace line once in a while really helps my solo speed. After all, you can cheat when attempting intervals alone. Also, it's great to cooperate with other cyclists in general.
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Old 08-19-08, 06:00 PM
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Read this thread about recent experience in a "Medicine" ride, as my LBS mechanic calls them:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...9217&highlight=
Watch who you paceline with, and if it looks like something is happening that makes you feel a bit uneasy, make sure you have a clear line to your left, ease out, and let them go.
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